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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s win over Northern Arizona


NCAA Basketball: Northern Arizona at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga is making good use of the holiday break with its fifth game in the last nine days. The games are coming fast and thick, but fortunately, the entire roster is getting a chance to see extended action. It’s nice to be able to play other teams and not intrasquad scrimmages all the time.

  1. Holding out Jalen Suggs due to a knee injury is always going to cause major concern. However, the reports are that he injured his right knee in the second half of the Virginia game, so the fact he was able to finish that game and was moving around during shootaround immediately prior to this game provides comfort that it’s not that serious. Hopefully he rests up this week and it starts to feel better in a few days. Whatever the case, though, he and the staff should take a conservative approach to prevent him from playing while compromised. There is no scenario that necessitates him playing in the next few weeks if he’s not feeling 100%.
  2. It’s probably going to be a long night for your team if you have to call a timeout 38 seconds into the game. In light of the fact that Gonzaga continued pouring it on after the timeout, I think it’s safe to say the offensive execution is not dependent on the vagaries of “momentum.”
  3. Hopefully this is the game that gets Joel Ayayi on track from the three-point line. The Zags haven’t exactly been hurting from the arc, as of late, but the offense hits a different dimension when there are multiple long-distance threats outside of Kispert. He’s a better shooter than his three-point shooting percentage indicated this season prior to this game.
  4. There’s so much to like about Dominick Harris’s skillset. He has excellent vision and feel while operating in halfcourt sets, and is more than willing to play aggressively. He definitely has the physical ability to be a game changer. He’s going to be a problem for opponents when he gets his opportunity.
  5. The Zags started out the game red hot. It was a much better start than the first game against Northwestern State last week, but Northern Arizona’s effort, or lack thereof, didn’t force Gonzaga to work very hard for anything either.
  6. I don’t think Oumar Ballo realizes just how big he is.
  7. It never gets old watching Ayayi put himself in position to get a rebound. His instincts and ability to read how the ball is going to carom off the rim is Dennis Rodman-esque.
  8. Drew Timme is such a technician in the post. This isn’t news. But what earns my admiration is that he doesn’t get sloppy and let his technique fall off against lesser competition.
  9. Nembhard was in complete control of the offense in this game. We should never take it for granted this season that we have someone of his caliber available off the bench to slide into the starting lineup and take the reigns of the offense without any road bumps.
  10. Northern Arizona is no Northwestern State, which allowed the coaches to finally get significant developmental time for the young guys at the end of the bench. There were some disjointed possessions, but any opportunity to get extended time for Ballo, Harris, and Strawther to play together is a massive plus for the future.